This is my first serious anthology of poetry (there was another by James K Baxter, a long time ago, before I started litblogging). It's the last anthology of a well-respected New Zealand poet, known as a "domestic poet" for her work on love, home and family. An important series was also inspired by her friendship with inmates of Arohata women's prison; several of these appear in Late Song.
I enjoyed and understood most of the poems here. Just a few did I fail to relate to, and they deal with subjects unfamiliar to me: marriage, old age, grandchildren. Many of the others express the images that I so often want to express, but lack, not words, but structures to do so:
Rain... moving in the dark, quiet and busyI feel that ideas are only valuable in novels and other longer forms, that in the poem and short story the image is the most important feature. I am a visual person, I love images and I love it when a poet says something in a way I recognise utterly:
Outside my open door
her drink spilt thereAnd one made me cry. I don't cry over poems. I cried over Afternoon at Akatarawa where a young Maori man does something unbelievably beautiful for a dead friend (possibly Edmond's own daughter, dead by suicide at a young age): "A salute. For a chief only. For her."
was red wine everywhere... suddenly I put my glass down
on a windowsill and went home
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